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RIGHTS > Gov't to implement court ruling against Twitter ban, Turkish Deputy PM says

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The government had blocked access to the social media network late March 21 sparking global outcry. REUTERS photo

The government had blocked access to the social media network late March 21 sparking global outcry. REUTERS photo

A top Turkish official has said the government will respect an Ankara court's stay of execution ruling on the decision to block Twitter, issued as the ban entered its sixth day on March 26.

"We will implement the court's decision. We might not like the court decision, but we will carry it out," Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told reporters in his first remarks following the ruling.

Ankara's 15th administrative court issued the stay of execution after a number of complaints were filed to courts last week to revoke the ban.

The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), the Ankara Bar Associations, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Oktay Vural were among those applying to the administrative court to invalidate the ban.

The court stated in its ruling that the ban of the entire website was contrary to the Turkish Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights, as it restricted the freedom of expression and communication.

The TİB has a right to object to the ruling, but access should be reopened before a second decision is made, legal experts consulted by daily Hürriyet said. However, according to Prime Ministry sources quoted by Reuters, the TİB has up to 30 days to implement the ruling.

Justice minister puzzled

For his part, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ expressed his confusion over the halt of the ban.

“I expect to read the administrative court’s justification. I don’t know if implementing court orders is contrary to the Constitution. Because that is what the TİB is currently doing,” said Bozdağ, despite the fact that none of the court decisions mentioned a total blackout of the social media network.

"We will see how the court has justified the unconstitutionality of the administrative decision that implements court rulings,” he added.

The Constitutional Court also reviewed individual applications regarding the ban on March 26, announcing that a separate ruling is not required at this moment as the administrative court in Ankara has already issued a stay of execution.

The decision comes after Erdoğan indicated the possibility that the ban could be extended to other popular social websites like YouTube and Facebook.

The government had blocked access to the social media network late March 21, hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed “to wipe out Twitter,” sparking global outcry.

The government had accused Twitter of “indifference” over Turkish court decisions to withdraw content considered as violating the right of privacy.

Twitter quickly started talks with the Turkish government through a lawyer, reassuring users in the country that the service would return soon and the network would ensure protection of their privacy.

Erdoğan said during a live TV broadcast March 26 that  Twitter had agreed to remove "one or two" pieces of content from the social media platform, but this was not enough. There are "approximately 700 pieces of content" that his government has demanded be removed, he added.

March/26/2014

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